Right this second, I’m sitting in a chair at my computer. I have a cup of mint tea in a warm, clay mug. I have socks on my feet, a big sweater on over my shoulders, and a stick of Morning Star incense burns down to a long, broken comma of ash. My fingers hit the computer keys with confidence. An itch on my back stops me mid-sentence—
What was it I was thinking? What is my intention?
If I’m not careful, I’ll get ahead of myself and think three paragraphs into the future. I’ll edit and hyperlink text in my mind that I haven’t even written down yet. I’ll gulp down an entire cup of tea without paying attention to the flavors of the herbs.
Instead, I choose to stay present. I practice mindfulness of the activity of writing because I know that my best work happens when I am open to The Big Ideas that come. It seems that the more I’m aware, the more I’m clued into something else going on; inspiration comes from a source outside of myself.
Tech and spirituality
More and more people are looking for something bigger than themselves to help get them through their work. For many, the thing that most people reach out to is technology. Reuters recently reported that Americans are willing to go longer without friends and sex than the Internet. But if we continue to reach out for inspiration from electronic sources and don’t take the time to nurture some inner peace and mental awareness, we may very well find ourselves on the other side of an energy crisis of the personal kind. We may miss out on the next great idea because we’re just too busy checking Twitter/Facebook/email/Google reader/pintrest/insert favorite website here.
A story in the Wall Street Journal today suggests that many tech-savvy executives seek spiritually-based practices to give them balance in their fast-paced lives and find inspiration. Spiritual practices stripped of religious ties–acupuncture, yoga and meditation classes, for example–are not only covered by many tech companies’ health benefits, but encouraged in the workplace. The Wisdom 2.0 conference in Silicon Valley has participants and speakers gather together for two days to share ideas on the balance of technology and spirituality in the workplace. Sneaker-clad tech executives from Twitter, Facebook, Paypal and Google are headliners alongside Buddhist teachers, leaders from Giving 2.0 and Project Compassion, and spiritual author Eckhart Tolle of “The Power of Now”. Clearly, some of us want to find the sweet spot between technology and staying human and nurture creativity in a technology-saturated universe.
Staying mentally aware and present doesn’t stop at the computer desk. Dr. Jan Bays, a physician and meditation teacher, brings mindfulness to the dining room table. Mindful eating is a way of eating that involves bringing your full attention to the process of eating—to all the tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings that arise during a meal. Bays suggests that by staying present in the moment, we can minimize overeating, stay healthier, and make better food choices. Mindful Eating–and its accompanying CD of guided exercises–offers research and practical experience of what mindfulness is and how it can help with food issues.
As online food writers and photographers we may be great a creating meals that are camera ready, but are we present for the eating, smelling and tasting of the food itself? How often are we caught up with thinking about the Next Great Meal or the Next Blog Post? Can we stay present as we create, while also staying on point with our Twitter feed, blog posts, and Facebook updates? If we maintain a strong mindfulness practice, will our desire to stay ahead of the technology wave decrease? Or stay strong?